“The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you're still a rat." -- Lily Tomlin

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Keeping Up with the ... Kardashians?

      We used to keep up with the Joneses. Oh, we said we didn't. But when we saw a new Mustang in our neighbor's driveway, we started thinking, maybe we could get one too. Or our friends were talking about their trip to Europe, and suddenly we wondered if we owed it to ourselves to make the trip. After all, it wasn't just a vacation, it was a learning experience!

     But nobody keeps up with the Joneses anymore. Now there's Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok and all the other social media. So today people keep up with the Kardashians.

     The result is just the same, or worse. We go into debt, we don't appreciate our purchases, we feel guilty . . . we feel worse for the experience. Or, if we can't afford to do what they're doing, we're jealous, or we resent it.

     Come on. Be honest. Haven't you ever seen a friend's post on Facebook or Instagram and they're sipping a drink on some tropical beach with a fancy hotel in the background? And you thought to yourself: Gee, if she can spend a week in Belize, why can't I?

Good times
     If that's not true, then why do we scroll through social media and see so many of our friends on vacation basking on the beach or sipping exotic cocktails? Why do we see so many people riding on the lake in their new boat? Or there's a picture of their new deck and backyard. Or they're going to a concert, attending a football game, riding their new electric bike.

     There's even a name for it:  revenge tourism, or revenge spending. The term captures the notion that we were deprived by Covid for a year or two, so dammit, we're going to make up for lost time right now, no matter the cost, no matter how it stretches our credit card bill or depletes our IRA account. Who knows what crisis lies beyond the next bend? We'd better grab our experience now while we can. As the saying goes, you only live once . . . or YOLO.

     Everything's gotten more expensive. But we're willing to do it anyway. And we seniors have yet another excuse. We're not getting any younger. Maybe we won't be healthy enough to travel in a few years. So we better do it -- and do it now!

     As for me, I drove through town the other day and noticed that every restaurant was full, people sitting at outdoor tables under the umbrellas. People were waiting for tables, spilling out onto the sidewalk. They all looked like they were having so much fun. I wanted to go out to dinner too!

     So perhaps we're not keeping up with the Joneses, or even the Kardashians. We're keeping up with our friends and acquaintances and people we hardly know.

     Meanwhile, my brother-in-law just posted on Facebook a photo of himself in Paris. A friend posted a picture of her new patio furniture on Instagram. Are they posting because they want me to share their enjoyment of that experience . . . or because they want me to be impressed? As much as I try to resist it, I'm feeling the fear of missing out, or FOMO. It looks to me like I'm sitting at home in front of my computer while they're active and alive and enjoying life to the fullest.

     Social media provides us with a lot of free entertainment. But I wonder if in the end it's costing us a lot.

17 comments:

ApacheDug said...

I'm pretty familiar with this mindset, it would explain why my sister says her & hubby will NEVER retire but both drive Jeeps, have the latest iphones & their teenage daughter has the wardrobe of a teen idol. But Tom, there's a smaller subset out there (which I proudly consider myself a part of) that thinks the exact opposite--whenever I see someone's latest trip, toy, etc I feel motivated to hold onto my money a little tighter. :^)

Hjacl said...

Jealous??? You just got back from a great trip to Wisconsin and environs?

Rian said...

Tom, I agree with Dug... but also with you to a point. You said, "Social media provides us with a lot of free entertainment". Yes, FREE!! With friends and family sharing their travel adventures and TV shows that take you the world over, I like the FREE entertainment. There are places I love to see on TV - like underwater adventures or climbing icy mountains, etc. These are things I would never attempt, but I do enjoy watching (and it's free!).
And there is the other side of the coin... "do it now as there may not be a tomorrow". This is true to some extent, but with me it's more likely to be simple pleasures and not expensive purchases or travel.

Arkansas Patti said...

Oops, I seem to have a missing gene. Can't remember ever wanting the lifestyle or item of another. I am thrilled with my 19 year old Toyota, my tiny air conditioned house, and my 32 inch TV. They all serve me well and with family and friends phone handy, I have what I need and want. Now I do usually envy the PNW for their their mild weather but not enough to move there. OK I wouldn't turn down a maid:)

Tom said...

Rian -- You make a good point. But the thing is, with TV and esp. social media, you get what you pay for. (Not all of the time, but most of the time.) Patti -- You made me laugh!

gigi-hawaii said...

I guess I am just too old to care. Really. With my arthritis, I have no desire to travel. I love my house. It's spacious and air conditioned, and I enjoy socializing with loved ones here. I like to blog and google and that's good enough.

Red said...

Social media also makes it easy to inform others what we have of what we are doing. It used to be that if we couldn't see something no problem. Now social media can tell it all.

Miss Merry said...

I think I was a little wistful when things started to open up. But I think, personally we have decided we like staying home. We connected with local farmers and enjoy our freezer of meat and fresh produce more than the careful foray's to restaurants. We were thinking of a trip last December, but I turned our bedroom into a Hallmark Christmas Inn instead. I do see people who have to "keep up" - honestly, it makes me tired. I just let them win.

Ed said...

Our household is much different. We usually head the opposite direction the hordes do for their vacations. It is much cheaper and much more peaceful. Just got back from a weekend spent hiking in the mountain amid 300 feet waterfalls and outstanding views in one of the most scenic places in the world that is here in the Midwest and 99.9% of the people I tell, have never ever heard of the place. It cost me two tanks of gas but was worth every penny.

RetirementCoffeeShop said...

I can relate to the FOMO bug. I'm not too impressed with other's post of their trip or new toy, but some days it does feel like everyone is out there on vacation but me. I know who is posting to share and who is posting to brag. I enjoy the sharing and roll my eyes at the bragging. My wife and I are heading out on an Alaskan Cruise in about 9 days. So, we will get to post a few travel photos of our own!

Wisewebwoman said...

I have very little envy in me and when friends post their cruises or European tours I mentally cringe, not my idea of a good time. I like off the beaten track stuff, unorganized. I miss walking so much it tends to dominate my thoughts. So yes, I suppose I envy the hikers and walkers but in a longing sort of way as I miss that capability more than anything.
I never bothered with the Jones thinking. I loved old houses and old furniture and bragging about how long my car had been on the road and extolling the benefits of cheap stuff in thrift stores and libraries.
XO
WWW

AWmom said...

Funny this was our sermon today.all about acquiring things one better than another . Then just when you have everything you want God Brings you home and all those possessions don’t go with you. Being loving , kind and good is all that will matter. So you were on the same page as the sermon today! Kudos!

Trudi said...

Americans have trouble with the concept of enough. If you have the basics that you need to live, some of the things you want, your health and someone you love... it is enough.

Obviously world peace and a cure for cancer would be wonderful but those seldom make it to wish lists.

Diane Stringam Tolley said...

I’m not a ‘things’ person. So those posts really don’t interest me, apart from the whole ‘good for them’ thought. But what capture my attention is when someone posts that they’ve inked a new book deal.
Then the ol’ jealousy gnome parks in my garden for a while...
Sigh.

Jennifer (UnfoldAndBegin) said...

Sure, I can get just a little jealous of someone's Paris pictures. But then I take my margarita and sit on my patio and look at the river lapping the dock outside my apartment and know that the beach is a short drive away. We moved to a beach town because that's where I always vacationed...the beach. Whether that was in Cape Cod, South Carolina, or Florida...there was always a beach involved, unless it was a lake. But you get the idea, that water is a necessity for stress-relieving vacations for me. But what you won't find me doing is unboxing make-up or buying dustibles to put in my home.

Rebecca Olkowski said...

I feel the same way too. I love to travel but as a single older woman who lives by the seat of my pants, I can't. My brother and his family are sailing around Tahiti and I am petsitting for him in Napa. Not a bad location to have to work in. LOL The 3 standard poodles, 4 cats, a bird, and chickens keep me busy.

Priscilla said...

I agree with Gigi!!! We love being home & our neighborhood & all the familiar sights!!